About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library is among the borough’s most democratic civic institutions, serving patrons in every neighborhood and from every walk of life. Established in 1896, BPL is one of the nation’s largest public library systems and currently has more than 850,000 active cardholders. With a branch library within a half-mile of the majority of Brooklyn’s 2.7 million residents, BPL is a recognized leader in cultural offerings, literacy, out-of-school-time services, workforce development programs, and digital literacy. In a borough of wide economic disparity, where the costs of basic necessities often take priority over spending on cultural enrichment opportunities, BPL provides a democratic space where patrons of all economic standings can avail themselves and their children of cultural and educational programs in a broad range of disciplines. 

The American Library Association’s 2014 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report ranked BPL third in the nation among public libraries for public programs offered and program attendance. In 2016, BPL was awarded an IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museum and libraries, in large part due to the work of its Outreach Services department and its efforts to serve Brooklyn’s most vulnerable populations.

Fast Facts

  • Most of Brooklyn’s 2.7 million residents live within a half-mile of a BPL branch.
  • Our collection holds more than 2.86 million physical items and 250,000 digital materials.

Last year, BPL:

  • Offered over 72,000 free programs, with over 1.2 million attendees.
  • Circulated materials 12.9 million times, including books and electronic media.
  • Provided 1.6 million computer sessions on 2,600 devices.
  • Logged a total of 95,000 volunteer hours contributed by 2,000 volunteers
  • Welcomed 7.9 million visits to our branches



Rebuilding Brooklyn's Libraries

One of Brooklyn Public Library’s most important functions is to provide accessible and inspiring spaces open to all. BPL is now entering one of the largest periods of rebuilding in its history.

Learn About BPL's Capital Projects